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"Religion Of Peace Moderate muslims" Firebomb '"Another Christian Church!'".. (Update)

Another Christian church has been attacked in Malaysia - the ninth such incident since Friday.

No one was injured in the attack on an evangelical Christian church, but buildings were damaged by what appear to have been home-made petrol bombs.

In another case a church was vandalised with black paint.

The attacks appear to have been triggered by a High Court ruling last month that overturned a government ban on non-Muslims using the word "Allah".

The government is appealing against the decision.

Deep resentments

The latest attack caused limited physical damage - just a burned door and a charred entranceway.

But the political implications may be more serious.

Tensions have flared after Malaysia's High Court ruled that a Roman Catholic newspaper, the Herald, was permitted to use the word Allah to describe God in its Malay language editions.

Muslim groups argue that Christians using a word so closely associated with Islam could be a ploy to win converts.

Christians make up around 9% of the population in the majority Muslim state. Most non-Muslims are ethnically Indian or Chinese.

The row over the use of the word Allah has exposed deep resentments over the treatment of minorities and freedom of religion in Malaysia.

A government minister told foreign diplomats on Monday that the church attacks were the work of extremists.

"These were not just attacks on houses of worship," he said. "These were attacks on the values and freedoms all Malaysians share."

Under the slogan "One Malaysia", the government has made racial harmony a central policy. Its commitment to that policy is now being severely tested.

The "Allah" ban is unusual in the Muslim world. The Arabic word is commonly used by Christians to describe God in such countries as Egypt, Syria and even nearby Indonesia, which is the world's world's largest Muslim nation.

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KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Malaysia on Monday defended its refusal to allow non-Muslims to use the word "Allah", as a dispute over the issue saw a ninth church attacked in a spate of fire-bombings and vandalism.

The Sidang Injil Borneo Church in the central state of Negri Sembilan was the latest to be targeted amid anger over a court decision to overrule a government ban on Malaysia's minorities using "Allah" as a translation for "God".

The church attacks which erupted last Friday have sent tensions soaring in the multicultural nation, where the Muslim Malay majority lives alongside ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.

Home Ministry secretary-general Mahmood Adam, who briefed foreign diplomats on the crisis Monday, said they had asked why the term was off-limits when it is widely used by Christians in Indonesia and the Middle East.

"They don't understand the situation here, they just want to know why it can be allowed in other countries and not here," he told reporters.

"Be fair, you have to compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges. Our landscape is different from other countries. Malays here are different from (Muslims in) other countries.

"The landscape here is different from Indonesia so we can't compare," he said.

The row flared after the High Court on December 31 ruled in favour of the Catholic newspaper The Herald, which argued for the right to use "Allah" in its Malay-language section.

Malaysia's Christians say they have used the word without incident for centuries, but the ruling party -- which is vying for popularity among Muslims with the opposition Islamic party -- insists it must be used only by Muslims.

It argues that the use of "Allah" by Christians could cause confusion among Muslims and encourage religious conversion, which is illegal in Malaysia.

The ruling in the Catholic newspaper's favour was suspended last week pending an appeal, after the government argued the decision could cause racial conflict.

Since Friday, churches have been pelted with Molotov cocktails, splashed with black paint and had windows smashed with stones, triggering tighter security at places of worship nationwide.

Deputy state police chief Abdul Manan Mohamad Hassan confirmed Monday's attack on the Sidang Injil Borneo Church which conducts services in the national language, Malay.

"This morning I was alerted by a church member who saw the door of the church had been burnt," senior pastor Eddy Marson Yasir told AFP. "It was very smoky inside the building but we are lucky that the fire didn't spread."

"We have been using the word 'Allah' during the service as most our church members speak the Malay language," he said of the 400-strong congregation which mostly hails from the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo island.

Despite the series of attacks, thousands of Malaysian Christians flocked to churches for weekly services Sunday.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has called for calm and said the government will not tolerate any threat to racial harmony.

Mahmood from the home ministry reiterated the government's condemnation of the church attacks and said Malaysia would do "all in our power" to protect religious freedom.

"These were not just attacks on houses of worship, they were attacks on the values and freedoms all Malaysians share," he said.

The row is one of a string of religious disputes in recent years that have strained relations between Muslim Malays and ethnic Chinese and Indians who fear the country is being "Islamised".

About nine percent of Malaysia's 28 million people are Christians, including some 850,000 Catholics. More than half of Malaysia's Catholics are from indigenous groups, mostly from Borneo, and who mainly speak Malay.


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Added: Jan-11-2010 
By: Charles_The_Hammer_Martel
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Tags: islam, muslims, jihad, intolerance, allah, qur'an, muhammad, firebombing, destruction,
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